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Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance Companies in Walnut Creek

How does the insurance claims process work?

The claims process usually proceeds in predictable steps. Before you file a claim, you or your Northern California attorney will notify people who may be responsible for the accident that you have been hurt and intend to file a claim for your injuries. This increases your chances of getting a settlement and prevents others from later saying that your claim unfairly surprised them.

Next, after you and/or your attorney have taken time to thoroughly investigate your claim by gathering evidence, establishing who is responsible for the accident, estimating what your claim is worth, and planning good arguments, your Moraga personal injury attorney will write a formal demand letter and submit it to the insurance company of the person he/she believes is responsible for your injuries. (This may include your own insurance company for example, if you are covered by an automobile policy or need to make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.) From there, he/she will engage in informal negotiations with the insurance company.

Sometimes your attorney may be dealing with a stubborn or unreasonable claims adjuster. If that is the case, your attorney may have to take your case to court. Your attorney may also file the lawsuit in order to get the matter moving forward because in many cases, an insurance carrier can be reluctant to settle unless a trial date is pending.

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What should I do when another person's insurance company calls me to talk about my injuries?

After you notify others that you have been hurt in an accident and intend to file a personal injury claim, you may receive phone calls from one or more insurance companies that want to talk to you about what happened. These first conversations will most likely occur before you file your claim for compensation or hire an attorney. If that is the case, you should abide by the following principles:

  • remain calm and polite;
  • identify the person you're speaking with, the company he or she represents and the person who is insured;
  • give limited personal information (your name, address and phone number are sufficient);
  • do not give details about the accident or your injuries;
  • resist any push to settle your claim immediately;
  • set limits on further phone contact; and
  • take notes about any important information you receive during the phone call, as well as whatever information you gave to or requests you made of the insurance adjuster.

Remembering these important rules will help you maintain your chances of receiving a good settlement for your injury claim. If you have already hired an attorney when you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, notify your attorney and let him/her arrange any discussions with the insurance company.

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Will my health insurance coverage or paid sick-leave from work limit my compensation for an accident?

The fact that your insurance company, rather than you yourself, may have paid for your medical expenses is not relevant to your right to recover medical expenses from another party. The same goes for whether your time lost from work was covered by sick leave or vacation pay. In fact, it is improper for an adjuster even to ask about such payments. You paid for your health insurance and earned your sick leave or vacation pay; now the insurance for the person who caused the accident has to pay.

Your own health insurance, however, may require that, out of your settlement, you reimburse it for some or all of the amounts it has paid to treat your injuries.

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What is liability insurance?

If a driver is at fault in a car accident, liability insurance pays for the damages that he/she caused to someone else. It does not pay for his/her own damages. There are two kinds of liability insurance: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury expenses include medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages. Property damage expenses include the repair or replacement of any item belonging to another person that is damaged or destroyed.

Liability insurance usually covers the following people:

  • Named insured - This is the person or people named in the policy, no matter what car they are driving.
  • Spouse - Even if the spouse of the named insured is not named on a policy, liability insurance almost always covers him or her, unless the couple does not live together.
  • Other relative - This refers to anyone living in the household with the named insured who is related to the insured by blood, marriage or adoption, usually including a legal ward or foster child.
  • Anyone driving the insured vehicle with permission - Someone who steals the car is not covered.

Liability insurance usually covers the following vehicles:

  • Named vehicles - An accident in a non-named vehicle is covered only if a named insured (see above) was driving.
  • Added vehicles - This includes any vehicle with which the named insured replaces the original named vehicle, and any additional vehicle the named insured owns during the policy period (you may be required to notify the company of the new or different vehicle within 30 days after you acquire it).
  • Temporary vehicles - A temporary vehicle is any vehicle, including a rental vehicle, that substitutes for an insured vehicle that is out of use because it needs repair or service, or has been destroyed.

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Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

1001 Country Club Dr., #F
Moraga, California 94556
Phone: (925) 254-1234
Toll Free: (888) 254-1234

Walnut Creek Insurance Law Lawyer Disclaimer: The information and materials contained on this web site do not constitute legal advice and are presented without any representation or warranty whatsoever, including as to accuracy or completeness. They are not intended to create, and receipt of them does not establish, an attorney-client relationship between you and Balamuth Law. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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